It is possible the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy could be awarded at the Independence Bowl.
A source told The Gazette that Air Force and Army are exploring the Dec. 26 bowl game as a makeup date for the game that didn’t take place this weekend, though multiple things would have to happen for that to go forward.
The Black Knights have already accepted an invitation to the Shreveport, La., bowl game. The game also has a tie-in with the Pac-12 this season, so finagling would be required.
All teams are eligible for bowl games this season, a concession granted in the face of COVID-19.
Athletic directors from Air Force and Army have stated their intention to replay the game that was scheduled for Saturday but postponed by the Falcons over COVID-19 concerns. Finding a date to do that, however, is complicated. The teams don’t have a common off week until Dec. 19 (assuming Air Force is not playing in the Mountain West Championship Game, scheduled for that day). But Dec. 19 falls between Army’s Dec. 12 showdown with Navy and is the week before it is scheduled to play in the Independence Bowl.
Joining the Black Knights in the Independence Bowl would be in keeping with Air Force athletic director Nathan Pine’s statement Friday morning during a radio interview. He said the teams would explore creative solutions that might require a sign-off from the NCAA and the Mountain West.
“This is an oddball year all the way across the board,” Pine said.
Another option could be playing the game in January 2021.
Air Force can clinch the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy in the game, if it is played, because it defeated Navy 40-7 on Oct. 3. The trophy goes to the winner of the annual round robin between the three service academies.
While options to make up the game are being explored, Army coach Jeff Monken continued to publicly disagree with Air Force over the postponement. Monken said Army also had an unspecified number of players isolated with the coronavirus and others in quarantine because of contact tracing.
He retweeted a photo of Army’s Michie Stadium that noted it was 72 degrees and sunny on Sunday, which Monken observed would have been a “beautiful day for football at the nation’s No. 1 college football venue.”
“I think we should take advantage of every opportunity to play that we can,’’ Monken told the Times Herald-Record on Saturday. “Certainly, we don't want to put anybody at risk, but we mitigate risks all the time in the military. That's what we do and part of the military is … we don't stop. The American people are counting on the military to keep going no matter what’s going on.
“I know (Air Force) had some injury issues and likely that had something to do with their decision as well. And I know they don’t like me saying that probably either, but you know the truth is the truth probably when you get down to it, but I know we won't ever get the truth … because they don't talk about injuries and I don't blame them – I don’t talk about them either.”